I currently have a server with an Areca 1210 RAID controller and 4x 1TB WD enterprise grade HDDs in a RAID10 (SATA II). My server has multiple VMs running and I'm nearly out of space. I want to add additional storage to my server or network for images/music/videos (with on-the-fly transcoding).
I have been exploring multiple options and I'm having trouble deciding on the best approach while trying to keep things affordable. My current RAID controller doesn't have any more ports... Here are a few options I'm considering:
1. Cheapest option may be to just get another identical RAID controller and 4x more 1TB drives in the server. With this, I'm unsure about how multiple RAID controllers would work in the same system (example upon boot how would you go into options of one or the other?). The benefit to this is it's cheap and I would be simply adding a new storage repository to my existing server.
2. Upgrade my existing RAID controller to one that supports at least 8 drives and create a new RAID10. This would be nice but I don't know how I could do this without losing existing data and VMs. Also the 8 port RAID controller would cost more.
3. Install SAS RAID controller in existing server and get new enclosure for drives with SAS expander. This seems costly but very flexible.
4. Get a NAS enclosure. (Still want RAID10). I'm really unsure about this one... as I understand it the enclosure will have some sort of file server running on it (samba?) and the storage space would just be a network resource? Sounds kind of good but how are permissions handled? Active Directory integration? Would on-the-fly transcoding be possible for videos? Seems expensive too.
5. UnRaid. Expensive. I like that I can mix and match drives with UnRaid in addition to how UnRaid spins up only needed drives. On-the-fly transcoding seems possible with i3 or Xeon model. What I don't like about UnRaid is it's a software RAID. Can the performance really compare to a hardware RAID? I don't understand the USB license.. does the OS literally run off the USB and it always needs to be plugged in? Finally as I understand it UnRaid doesn't support hot-swapping.
I'm really at a loss of what direction to go. I'd be willing to spend $1000-$2000... and since I want a RAID10 thats a pretty expensive 2TB of space I'll gain (4x 1TB drives).
I would really like to here some others opinions as well as some options I may have overlooked?
It sounds like you have no backup of your data. Raid is not a replacement for having backups. Its intention is to keep your server 'up' should you experience drive failure.
With that out of the way, grab a sas card. They can run sata drives just fine. I would recommend a used M1015 for around $100. it runs raid 10's great and if you want to try unraid you can flash it to IT mode for use as a non-raid controller. It supports sata3 large drives and ssd's, and can directly attach 8 drives with up to 24 via sas expanders.
unraid is good solution and many people use these cards with it.